We're fighting a battle, when everything seems lost, an evil rogue in our party stealths and steals from us as we're fighting. Against all odds, we survive. When the battle ends, we realize the rogue is gone and the bag with all of our goods is gone with him.

The party consists of 6 Level 8 PCs and 1 Level 16 PC made up of:

  • Paladin (level 16)
  • 2 Bards, Warlock, Fighter (gunslinger), Cleric, and a Wizard

The Rogue was a PC, but is now an NPC after stealing the loot.

At this point, the rogue is about 15 seconds away from the party. Is there a way to track him, or is the loot gone for good?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "At this point, the rogue is about 15 seconds away from the party." - but you don't see him, you even don't know the direction? Why? \$\endgroup\$ – enkryptor Feb 15 '18 at 20:44
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ We were in the middle of a fight. While we were all occupied with the opponents, the rogue went stealth, we assumed he was fighting alongside us. At the end of the fight, we notice the rogue is gone and our possessions with him. In other words, in the chaos of a battle, we didn't notice him slip away. He rolled high enough to steal a Bag of Holding without us noticing. That's where that night ended. The next session, our characters didn't even suspect foul play, but instead we assumed something happened to him. We were fighting a high-level Lich, so maybe a spell we didn't notice. Who knows... \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Feb 16 '18 at 23:43

Survival and Perception Checks / Magical Tracking

While you can't call for what check to make, you can describe what you'd like to do. Tracking is something that any character is capable of through Survival and possibly Perception(PHB, 178).

Survival. The DM might ask you to make a Wisdom (Survival) check to follow tracks, hunt wild game, guide your group through frozen wastelands, identify signs that owlbears live nearby, predict the weather, or avoid quicksand and other natural hazards.

In the future, you can also utilize Hunter's Mark to get a better chance of finding them.

you have advantage on any Wisdom (Perception) or Wisdom (Survival) check you make to find it

Using Magic, if available

There are a few options available to you, should you have anyone with access and spell slots available:

  1. Locate Object - 2nd Level Spell, 1 Action
  2. Locate Creature - 4th Level Spell, 1 Action

Locate Object is probably your best bet as the spell cost is smaller than Locate Creature - but either should work.

Scrying is interesting, but the 10 minutes it takes to cast it would hurt more than help.

Distance to the Rogue

Assuming the Rogue has a 15 second head start (as stated), that's 2.5 rounds. If they Hid in the first round, then they could do a single move that round, a double the next and maybe give them another single move for the .5 round (but that's being very generous and assuming your party was still fighting during that round.) If we say the ROgue had a 30 move speed, that's a total of 120' away. That's far enough to have to find those tracks and then track him (all taking time) while the rogue continues to move forward. Locate Object remains your top option.

DM Decisions

How and if you are able to actually track the Rogue may eventually come down to DM storyline. If things don't turn out how you'd like, for any reason, it may be because this is part of the story the DM is telling. Try and do what your characters would do, but also let the DM tell their story - it may turn out to be cooler than catching the thief right away! If the PCs are able to successfully track, the DM may also choose engage the Chase dynamics found in the DMG.

| improve this answer | |
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe something about the chase mechanics I 'think' are in the DMG, I always forget them, would be useful? \$\endgroup\$ – Jihelu Jan 16 '18 at 22:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jihelu that's more for the DM and if they can track, but it's a good addition to the answer. I'll try and get it in soon. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 16 '18 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Would you say it’s the DMs call for survival vs perception vs just wisdom, which can differ depending on proficiency bonuses? We’re talking about this in our game and we seem to be settling on perception for urban environments and survival for more outdoor settings. \$\endgroup\$ – Jason C Sep 17 '18 at 17:14
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @JasonC I think it's more about how the player is describing what they're doing OR how the DM sees the path to discovery (or both.) But at the end, it's the DMs call as to what the actual check is. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Sep 17 '18 at 17:21

Not sure why tracking is even required.

Assuming that the thief had to stay stealthy, or else be caught leaving the battle.

Per the SRD, pg 84, in order for someone to move stealthy, they would be considered traveling at a "slow" pace. A slow pace has a maximum of 200 ft per minute. Since you say they only have a 15 second head start, that's one quarter or 50ft away (or less!).

Now the thief has three options: keep moving at a stealthy pace (assuming there is terrain in which to be stealthy), bunker down and hide until the party passes/gives up, or make a run for it.

The party can just pair off and search. I recommend one of each group be a character with high perception so the other character is "helping" and giving advantage.

If that fails, then yes, fall back to a dedicated tracking method; scrying magic, Ranger skills, familiars with tracking skills/senses, etc.

| improve this answer | |

Rangers Can Indeed Track

Most rangers have high Survival skills which tracking should be included. The ranger should be able to ask the DM if they can track the rogue, and with the DM's approval make a Survival Skill Check to track. The Revised Ranger has more details in their Natural Explorer class feature about what they can and can't tell while tracking.

Find Familiar

The warlock gets more options for the form of the familiar. Those include forms that have invisibility like the Sprite, the Imp, and the Quasit. A "spy familiar" isn't a term of art, when talked about they simply mean using the familiar for the act of spying.


There are a few spells that could also work/help.

  • Scry
  • Locate Object
| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.